WorldFirst Review

worldfirst
  • Fast and reliable transfers
  • Good customer support
  • Easy to open online
  • Major marketplaces supported
  • Xero integration
  • For businesses only

In a sea of money transfer services, a company is trying to stay in the spotlight. A pioneer of money transfers, WorldFirst is still going strong. How strong and how competitive are their rates? Find out in our WorldFirst review. But first, here’s our short verdict:

A veteran in money transfers and payments, WorldFirst is going stronger than ever, and more focused on business customers. If you want to save your business some money with competitively priced exchange rates, look no further than WorldFirst.   

worldfirst review

About WorldFirst

WorldFirst is a foreign exchange and payments company at its core. Its mission is to make it easy to do business anywhere.

Like all good origin stories, WorldFirst was founded by two friends – Jonathan Quin and Nick Robinson. In 2004, the two set up shop in a basement apartment in South London. Armed only with 10 years of experience in corporate banking and what Jonathan now calls ‘an entrepreneurial naivety’.

In a bit over 10 years, they’ve expanded the company from that South London basement into a global business with offices in London, Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Washington, Austin (TX), and the Netherlands.

Why is WorldFirst so special?

Since the founding of the company, more than 240K businesses have used WorldFirst to send more than £87bn around the world!

They make it easy to manage your money and FX transactions all in one place. WorldFirst customers can open one or multiple local currency accounts online, for free, and make foreign exchange transactions in 68 currencies easily and quickly. 

The fintech is geared towards businesses selling via online marketplaces and businesses importing and paying overseas suppliers. 

Pros and cons

Pros

  • No monthly or annual fees
  • Free to open an account
  • Free to open multiple international currency accounts
  • All major marketplaces supported
  • No annual fees, deposit requirements, or minimum transaction level
  • Relationship managers 

Cons

  • No more personal accounts
  • No direct info on fx pairs

Fees

As a new WorldFirst customer you will begin with a maximum FX fee of 0.5% when you open an International Payments Account and a maximum FX fee of 0.6% if you open an International Collection Account.

International Payments Account

FX fees

  • Under £500K: 0.50%
  • £500K – £5M: 0.25%
  • Over £5M: 0.15%

Payment fees

  • Payment with FX conversion: £5.00 (Over £5,000 – £1.50)
  • Payment without FX conversion: £15.00
  • GBP payment without FX conversion (domestic): £1.50

International Collections Account

FX fees

  • Under £500K: 0.60%
  • £500K – £5M: 0.35%
  • Over £5M: 0.25%

Your fixed fee is reviewed at the end of every quarter and is changed in line with the last 12 months’ transaction volume at the time of review.

WorldFirst personal account

WorldFirst did offer personal accounts up until recently (April 2021) when they decided to focus solely on business customers. They’re recommending their existing customers to Xe, which they say is offering a comparable service. 

Where is WorldFirst available?

You can open receiving accounts in the UK, USA, Netherlands, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan.

With WorldFirst you can send money to 180+ countries.

How to open a WorldFirst account?

It’s free to open a WorldFirst account. Visit their website and click on sign up. You’ll need to enter the country you’re in, your name, email, username, phone number, address, and a password for starters. 

You’ll also have to fill in details about your company, and directors. After that, a member of the WorldFirst team will call you to verify your ID and ask you for some documents that you’ll have to upload. 

The whole process can be finished the same day if the team can verify you quickly. 

International Collections Account

  • Reliable international money transfers
  • Transparent and competitive rates
  • Real-time rate alerts
  • Mass payments from a single transaction
  • Facilitate unfunded and prefunded spot contracts
  • Book forward contracts online
  • Dedicated relationship manager

For businesses that are accepting payments from customers around the world, including marketplaces, WorldFirst’s International Collections Account will enable the collection of those payments in multiple currencies.

WorldFirst supports payments from all the major marketplaces: Amazon, Aliexpress, eBay, Etsy, Rakuten, Newegg, Tanga, Flubit, Goat, Gmarket Global, Americanas, Back Market, Cdiscount, ManoMano, Open Sky, Sears Marketplace, and TopHatter. 

International Payments Account 

  • Up to 10 local currency accounts
  • Hold funds to pay suppliers
  • Competitive rates and transparent fees
  • Seamless Xero integration
  • Currency account in your business name
  • Dedicated relationship manager

For those looking to pay their overseas suppliers and staff, or freelancers, WorldFirst is offering an International Payments Account that will speed up international payments with same-day availability on 97 percent of currency pairs actively traded through its online platform. 

You can pay in 68 currencies, so you can buy more competitively, and from more countries and make mass payments from a single transaction.

This account also includes:

  • Forward contracts
  • Spot contracts
  • Firm orders

Forward contracts 

Per Investopedia, “A forward contract is a customized contract between two parties to buy or sell an asset at a specified price on a future date.” With WorldFirst, you can lock in an fx rate for up to 24 hours which means that you know exactly what exchange rate you’re getting.

The main types of forward contracts WorldFirst offers are fixed, window, and flexible forward contracts.

Things to consider about making forward contracts with WorldFirst:

  • During a forward contract, if the market rates move against you, you won’t lose out because your rate is secured
  • You won’t benefit if a currency moves in your favor during your forward contract
  • You must consider your risk appetite and evaluate your budget when pre-booking foreign currency
  • You can enter a forward contract exchange with WorldFirst in order to pay an upcoming invoice in a foreign currency
  • There is an initial deposit requirement associated with forward contracts ranging from three to 10 percent depending on the length of your contract

Spot contracts 

This is the simplest form of international payment that you will generally make with very little notice or even straight away. WorldFirst will offer you a rate based on a live market rate (or “spot”) and you can choose whether or not to transact then and there.

Firm orders

With a firm order, you instruct WorldFirst to execute a transaction on your behalf at a rate of your choosing. When the rate hits the level you want they’ll act immediately, leaving you free to concentrate on your business. The transfer can be executed the moment they can secure your currency at the agreed rate – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Xero integration

This is great news for all Xero users. WorldFirst has added Xero integration recently. To access it, you’ll have to have the Xero multi-currency subscription. To link Xero and WorldFirst:

  1. Log in to your International Collections Account or sign up for a new one 
  2. Go to Settings and select ‘Connected Accounts’
  3. You’ll be temporarily redirected to Xero to log in to your account
  4. Back in your International Collections Account, select which currency accounts you’d like to connect.

WorldFirst will post the following transaction data to your Xero account: 

  • Transaction ID
  • Transaction value
  • Transaction type (credit or debit)
  • Transaction date
  • Reference and description

The currencies that you can connect to your multi-currency Xero account are:

  • GBP, USD, EUR, CAD, JPY, AUD, SGD, NZD, HKD and CNH

How to deposit money into your WorldFirst account

You can send your money by any of the following methods:

  • Online/telephone banking (faster payment): this usually arrives the same day or the following morning.
  • BACS – a BACS payment takes two working days for funds to arrive. The funds are cleared on the third day, which is when your payment will be able to leave WorldFirst.
  • Direct Debit – similar times to BACS
  • CHAPS – a CHAPS payment is a same-day payment and will arrive on the day you send it.

How long do WorldFirst transfers take?

All money transfers depend on the sending or buying currency, the size of the transaction, the country, and the bank used. 

GBP, US dollar, or euro transfers happen on the same day after receiving your funds. With other currencies, you’ll need to allow one to four days for your funds to reach the recipient. Likewise, If you’re sending USD to another country then you should allow up to four days for it to clear.

How is WorldFirst regulated?

  • In the UK, WorldFirst UK Limited is authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) as an Electronic Money Institution under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011.
  • In the Netherlands, World First Netherlands B.V. is authorized by De Nederlandsche Bank (“DNB”) as an Electronic Money Institution
  • In Canada, WorldFirst UK Ltd is separately registered with the Financial Transactions Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (“FINTRAC”) as a money service business and is able to provide foreign exchange dealings and money transfer services to customers resident in Canada.
  • In Australia, WorldFirst Pty Ltd is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) AFS Licence number 331945. And also a designated remittance provider registered with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (“AUSTRAC”).
  • In China, WorldFirst Asia Limited is regulated as a Money Services Operator by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, MSO Licence: No 14-02-01352.
  • In Singapore, WorldFirst Asia Pte Ltd is regulated as a remittance business by The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) license: RA No. 01497.
  • In UAE, World First UK Limited is authorized and regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) as a Representative Office.

Is my money safe with WorldFirst?

Because WorldFirst is regulated as an e-money institution and not as a bank, none of your deposits are insured with FDIC, FSCS, or other similar governmental institutions.

That doesn’t mean that your money isn’t safe, on the contrary. Your money is safeguarded in a separate account within a reputable banking institution and WorldFirst can only use it for the intended purposes, ie. it can’t invest or lend it. 

And in the unlikely event that the company will go under, your money would be returned to you straight from the bank. 

Who owns WorldFirst?

WorldFirst was founded in 2004 by Jonathan Quin and Nick Robinson. Its headquarters are in London, England.

The company was acquired by the Ant Group in 2019 for $700 million. The Ant Group is part of the huge Alibaba Group. 

Customer reviews

WorldFirst has a 4.6-star rating out of 5 on Trustpilot from 1900+ reviews, with 84% of reviewers giving it an excellent mark and 9% a bad one. With a 4.6 score, WorldFirst is placed much higher than PayPal that has a 1.2-star rating, and Netteler and its 2.5 stars. Wise, for example, has a 4.6, TransferGo a 4.8-star rating, Payoneer a 4.4, and CurrencyFair a 4.6-star rating. Square, on the other hand, has a 4.7-star rating.

Customer service

Phone lines are open from 8 am until 8 pm Monday to Thursday, and 8 am to 5.30 pm on Fridays. All times are UK times. 

  • International Collections Account
    • New to WorldFirst
      • In the UK 0207 801 1065
      • Outside the UK +44 207 801 1065
    • Existing WorldFirst customers
      • Existing In the UK 0207 801 1068
      • Outside the UK +44 207 801 1068
  • International Payments Account
    • New to WorldFirst
      • In the UK 0207 801 1065
      • Outside the UK +44 207 801 1065
    • Existing WorldFirst customers
      • In the UK 0207 326 9120
      • Outside the UK +44 207 326 9120

You can also email them at enquiries@worldfirst.com.

WorldFirst competitors

Payoneer 

payoneer

Payoneer is so widely accepted by now that nearly everyone that has some kind of business online has a Payoneer account as well. Their app works great, and if you need a debit card, you can order one free of charge, although the card is not the cheapest one to use in some cases.

If you’re looking for a no-frills way to get paid and send payments to others, and you don’t need to accept cards, Payoneer is a suitable option. 

Read the full Payoneer review here

PayPal 

paypal

PayPal is the most well-known money transferring service with tens of millions of customers annually. You’ve probably used it before to pay someone or get paid yourself. And while it may have some issues and can be a bit expensive in some cases, it’s still an excellent alternative to Payoneer.

TransferGo 

transfergo

With excellent customer reviews, UK-based regulation, and an easy-to-use interface, TransferGo is an attractive choice for those looking for dedicated service to transfer money online within Europe and worldwide. 

While the currencies and countries may be restrictive for some, if you fall into that niche and you’re willing to wait three days for a free transfer, TransferGo is a viable and cost-effective option for many.

Read the full TransferGo review here.

Wise

wise

It’s free to get an account, and there’s no monthly plan to pay for. Wise charges are laid out and are far lower than high street banks for the equivalent service. Plus, Wise uses the actual mid-market exchange rate when making conversions, unlike other payment service providers.

Read the full Wise review here.

WorldRemit

worldremit

Depending on where you’re sending money to, the platform may not be the most cost-effective. But if you’re more worried about getting it done quickly and easily from your smartphone, WorldRemit is probably a safe and reliable choice.

Read the full WorldRemit review here.

CurrencyFair

currencyfair

CurrencyFair is a solid and trustworthy money transferring platform that has been in business for more than 10 years. It offers very competitive fx rates and a transparent flat fee. They are a mature company that will not disappoint personal but also business users.

Read the full CurrencyFair review here.

The bottom line

WorldFirst offers a multicurrency account for both businesses importing and paying suppliers overseas and businesses selling via online marketplaces. Its competitive fx rates and a strong track record of more than 240k businesses around the world should give you the confidence to open an account and to a successful business with them. 

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